Dear Parking Guru,
I recently moved to the City and wanted to share a parking experience that I had recently. It was Thursday evening and I parked in a yellow zone which was right next to a white zone on 3rd and Mission at about 7 pm. I chose the yellow zone because it was after 7 pm. I came back at 9 pm and could not find my car. I called SFPD to make a report. They told me I should check with AutoReturn. Lo and behold, my car had indeed been towed.
I took a cab to the AutoReturn lot. Once there, they said that my car was not there, but was at the lot next to 850 Bryant street. I wandered around and found it on 7th Street. Once there, it took them over an hour to find it. The whole ordeal took me three hours and cost $495 dollars. And when I got into my car, there was a ticket for $85 saying "tow away zone." Isn't it legal to park in a yellow zone after 6 pm? And how do I get my money back?
Portland to SF
In the spirit of Giants season (and our never-ending love-hate relationship with SFMTA), here's a parking quiz for you on this gorgeous Friday. Between A and B, which is applies to the SFMTA or the SF Giants? We'll have the answers for you after lunch!
I'm following up on our email exchange from February about a ticket issued by SFMTA to my girlfriend for "over 3% grade." Thank you so much for your help so far. We used your parking resources link. And clicked on the surveyed streets of San Francisco and found that the grade of the street in question in fact is only 1.75%.
My girlfriend contested the ticket, on time, sending in a copy of the SF DPW subdivision map which clearly shows a grade of 1.75% for the block in question (Potrero Ave, between 17th/Mariposa), and a letter explaining why the ticket should be reversed.
The response from the SFMTA was as follows: "After reviewing your protest, the department has determined that: our records indicate the grade at the location on the citation is in excess of 3%. The circumstances you presented in your protest were insufficient to overcome the validity of the citation. The review has confirmed that the citation was properly issued and is valid."
The next step of protest was to request an administrative hearing. The hearing official heard my girlfriend's argument, looked at the DPW maps we printed out, and told my girlfriend she couldn't decide the case on the spot and would have to go look at her records and get back to us.
Even if, in the best case, this was a SFMTA clerical error, how can these meter maids be giving out so many bogus tickets on this block? Our experience seems to show that it's very unlikely that any correction to their lack of knowledge will be made. Their lack of knowledge makes SFMTA money, so it's in their best interest to not educate them with trivial things like the law.
Is the City abusing its power, using unethical corporate tactics, giving out bogus tickets and then dumping them into administrative hearings, hoping we will just pay the ticket rather than go through the hassle? If only we could publicly aggregate complaints.
Feeling Angry At My City Government
The only thing worse than getting a parking ticket is getting a parking ticket that was issued just a few minutes before you arrived back to your car. The only thing worse than that is walking back to your car and from a block away seeing the DPT three-wheeler with its yellow flashing lights double-parked right next to your car. That's when your fight or flight mechanism switches instinctively to fight.
Muni's budget was reported as being balanced last Thursday. The question now is what will happen with all of the surplus money. No, just kidding. That's just an early April Fool's Day warm-up joke. Muni's budget has as much chance of being balanced, or running at a surplus as do most of our own personal budgets. Muni is facing a $53.2 million budget deficit over the next 2 years ($19.6 million in 2013 and $33.6 million in 2014), and in order to try to slow down the bleeding, SFMTA Director Ed Reiskin has proposed some changes. Here are some of the highlights:
12 SFMTA Managerial Positions Cut
Just before lunch, we tried to stump you with this parking quiz question: You park in a spot with a sign posted that says, 2-Hour Limit, M-F, 9 am to 7 pm. It's 9 am. You move your car at 11am to another block. When are you safe to park on the original block again without fear of getting a ticket?
A) After 1 pm
B) After 4 hours
C) After 7 pm
D) After your odometer has moved one tenth of a mile
E) After Midnight
Here's a good old-fashioned parking quiz for this sunny Friday. You park in a spot with a sign posted that says, 2-Hour Limit, Monday through Friday, 9 am to 7 pm. It's 9 am. You move your car at 11 am to another block. When are you safe to park on the original block again without fear of getting a ticket?
A violation of Div. I 7.2.35 , aka Parking on Grades, aka Block Wheels, aka Curbing your Wheels will cost you $50. But tickets for this violation are often given out erroneously because unfortunately, some DPT officers don't know that in order to cite somebody for violating this traffic code, the street must be a grade of 3% or more. A 3% grade is actually 1.72 degrees (picture a 45 degree ramp). It looks almost flat. Many of these citations are written in error because DPT officers can't possibly know the specific grade of every street in SF. And many of these erroneous tickets are paid erroneously by us, because how could one possibly disprove it?
Last week's story seemed to strike a nerve or two, which generated a lot of first amendment activity in the comments section. I found alot of them to be smart, funny, and insightful. So much so that I thought I'd share some of the highlights with you this week. Without further ado, here are your fellow readers' recent freedoms of expression about parking:
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